honorable mentions: poetry

recurring dream recurring

by  neal allen shipley (augustana college)

The one where the world repaints itself

            and he has the head of a dog,

body of a Hollywood bombshell and I call him Daddy,

                        because it turns him on.

            Then the hornets—

the shape I call Daddy shoots them down

with a bottle of Raid held like a shotgun

                        they turn to flecks of coal at my feet.

He tells me to pick them up

            and he takes them from me,

            pressing them against my chest

until I have,


a heart of diamond.


You’re pregnant again

            and I’m still not ready—

something about too late,

about should’ve taken more care

            when we robbed that gas station.


                        This is not the color of our home

and the baby was born with hands

            like claws and doctor says

he can fix it,

            but you bare your teeth.


 by jesse mikhail wesso (bradley university)

This late I speak two languages,

conversational confessional

and fluent flirtational because

bars, the universal language,

are potent salve for the stagnant.

So we drink. And buy each other

drinks and speak of how happy—

It’s amazing what parts splatter

on others when drunk, like

my glasses when drunk ride

pretty girls’ noses and whisper

philanderies. It’s bizarre English,

peg-legged and horny, stamping

dirty pirouettes and tracking mud

when subtlety doesn’t get laid

and modesty is teeth but oars

too, beating back rotten green

eddies like nauseated absinthe

when absinthe is each overused

pickup, and you wonder how beauty

exists in/outside this world, well

the prettiest thing ever said

at a bar, this Spanish girl traced

my arm with one finger and spoke

below ocean eyes that my veins

were beautiful. She never slept

with me, but I remember her

eyes unlike the others. Leaving

the bar, I saw a Hardees bag

and knew it was me. I knew

weightlessness and imagined

a raft instead of fast -food, how

each breath is radiant waves,

fingers are eyes and covalent

springy like drunken stars, knowing

even as pre-language babes chuck

mashed collards that this, this

this is what we bleed, the true

universal and motive speak.

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